Now terminally infected with the sailing bug, Barbara and I couldn’t wait to find a boat of our own! Now, I’m going to spare you a lot of (terribly interesting to us, but no doubt excruciating to you) detail about our boat search. Here’s the bulletized sequence:
- We bought sailing magazines
- We, of course, spent DAYS pouring over online postings
- We binged on YouTube sailing videos like they were Game of Thrones episodes (except this last season)
- … and we booked a trip to Annapolis for the Fall Boat Show
Two hulls are better than one
Early on in the search, we ruled out monohulls. Barbara wanted the stability and room of a catamaran, and I liked the shallow draft that would allow us to get closer to islands and protected anchorages. Of course, that only narrowed our search down to an entire planet of catamaran makers.
We also allowed each other one “must have”. Barbara wanted an island bed so she could access it from the side, rather than just the foot like many boat beds; and I wanted an “owner’s version”, with one entire hull devoted to accommodations for the owners (several cats in the size we’re looking for are configured with two staterooms, fore and aft, in each hull for a total of 4 in order to optimize them for charter service.)
… which meant we didn’t know boats at all, or we’d have been worrying about important stuff like engines, drive systems, rigging … anyway …
Eventually, factoring in cost, blue water legs, dock access and space requirements, we settled on cats in the 40 – 45 foot range and packed our bags for the Annapolis Boat Show!
The one thing we knew since the beginning of our search was the name of our boat. We would name her La Vie Dansante – the dancing life. Barbara is a wonderful dancer, and our courtship involved a lot of it. I had to keep up just to keep Barbara! Also, Jimmy Buffett’s song La Vie Dansante (which you can listen to right now by scrolling down to the built-in music player at the bottom of this page) beautifully captures how Barbara and I look at life – particularly a life at sea. Whatever boat we came up with, she would eventually bear the name La Vie Dansante.
A Little Too Eager in Annapolis
Our first boat show was fun for two reasons;
- We felt like we had to learn a new language just to talk to the vendors! We basically had no idea why we might even need most of the stuff we were seeing, and if we did, we wouldn’t know where to start!
- We almost bought a boat. Yep right out the gate we almost committed to a larger expense than any house we’d lived in.
Browsing online ads left us with three favorite makes, all of them French (go figure, for a boat named La Vie Dansante)! So when we got to the show, we browsed the Bali and Fountaine Pajot boats there. … Then we found Rudi Pretorius and Maverick Yachts.
Rudi makes Mavericks in South Africa, which made for a pretty good deal on a new boat since the US dollar was doing pretty well against their’s about then. Mavericks are well-built, solid cruising cats for sure. We fell in love with a 44-foot Maverick … so much love that we signed a contract, pending down payment, and met with a lender for breakfast first thing next morning. And that was when the whole thing fell apart.
Mavericks are artisan boats, and the yacht maker needs regular revenue to purchase materials and continue building it so, basically, you’re paying for your boat as they build it. Rudi was willing to flex with us a little, but we still didn’t have that kind of capital available. We needed a little more traditional loan, and traditional lenders aren’t about to lend money for collateral in South Africa that had yet to be built, so we reluctantly cancelled the order and flew back home – boatless – to continue the search.
We did wind up visiting one more boat show – Fort Lauderdale the following spring … only to find out it was a power boat show! No sailboats. So, we ate a lot of seafood, wondered about the riches held by those shopping power megayachts and headed home – still boatless.
Back home, we started looking online again and … hey, wait … what’s this?